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Netanyahu: Israel Expects Countries to Tell Truth about Holocaust, Including Poland

07 February 2018

"The Polish government canceled my visit to Poland because I mentioned the crimes of its people".

Poland has canceled Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett's visit this week because of Bennett's reaction to the measure.

"Although he said, "We do not deny that there were cases of huge wickedness", especially regarding the denunciation of Jews by Polish citizens", he was emphatic in stating: "No, there was no systematic way in which Poles took part" in the Holocaust.

"The past can not be rewritten", he said.

The president of Poland noted that this is not a new law and added that he discussed this issue more than a year ago, also during his visit to Israel.

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On Monday, Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told Israeli reporters that it was too late to amend the bill and sought to explain its rationale. He was scheduled to meet with Gowin, who is also the Minister of Science and Higher Education, before speaking to students about the Holocaust remembrance.

Israel's Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that it would continue to communicate with Poland despite its reservations about the law.

Some risked their lives and those of their families to shelter Jews; almost 7,000 have been recognized as "Righteous Among the Nations" by Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust Remembrance Center.

As now written, the legislation calls for prison terms of up to three years for falsely attributing the crimes of Nazi Germany to Poland.

Slawomir Neumann of the centrist Civic Platform party accused Duda of giving in to the pressure of nationalists and anti-Semites and said his signing "deepens the diplomatic crisis".

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Israel slammed the new proposed legislation, emphasizing that Poland was instrumental in the extermination of Jews during World War II. For example, Poland joined the group of countries that did not support the vote in favour of the recognition of Palestine at the United Nations, and Warsaw regularly takes pro-Israeli positions in the European Union context.

Bennett pointed out that although the death camps were indeed "built and operated by the Germans, and we can not allow them to evade responsibility for these actions", nevertheless, he noted that many Polish people, all over the country, "chased, informed or actively took part in the murder of over 200,000 Jews during, and after, the Holocaust". "Only a few thousand people, Righteous Among the Nations, risked themselves to save Jews". I accepted an invitation to a dialogue based on truth.

The Polish government has provoked yet another global crisis, this time by adopting a law that is ostensibly meant to combat the phrase "Polish death camps". It said in a statement that the law's "flaws are liable to result in the distortion of history due to the limitations that the law places on public expressions".

Warsaw, however, disagrees with Tel Aviv. The law targets a geographical shorthand, sometimes used overseas, for the extermination camps that the Nazis established on Polish territory during the Second World War.

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Netanyahu: Israel Expects Countries to Tell Truth about Holocaust, Including Poland